Philliphines

How ChatGPT Helped Software Engineers Create a Viral Philippine Travel-Grade Mapping Site

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MANILA, Philippines — As Filipinos look to start traveling again after years of pandemic restrictions, social media feeds boiled over as users shared maps of places they’ve been in the Philippines, all thanks to in a web application.

Denz Del Villar, a Filipino software engineer in Singapore, created the My Philippines Travel Level website for users to showcase their travels in the Philippines.

The do-it-yourself map quickly went viral, with celebrities like Macoy Dubs and even former Vice President Leni Robredo sharing their results.

Denz told Rappler that the site represented his first foray into web development, adding that he’d been thinking about the idea for years but couldn’t get started due to lack of experience.

“I think it’s from 2019. I randomly saw this map in Japanese and I got interested…. I was surprised and thought ‘hey, this should have a Philippine version too,’ but there wasn’t any available version,” he said in a mixture of English and Filipino.

On April 5, he made a 10-hour layover en route to Turkey before he was finally motivated to start the project. He also has a tool that will help him finally conquer web development – ChatGPT.

“Many software engineers see potential in ChatGPT to guide them in building projects,” Denz said.

The software engineer estimates that around 70% to 80% of popular websites are made with the help of ChatGPT.

Behind-the-scenes

Denz’s journey on the site started with creating a map of the Philippines, spending the full ten hours of his initial stay building that foundation.

“(The website) has a lot of pictures, you need a map first, but I don’t know how to do it, I don’t even know how to draw it. I asked ChatGPT how to start. I also followed the format of the person who created the Japanese version…the website didn’t exist at the time Go live because there are still many features missing,” he said.

To fill in the gaps of missing features, he would consult ChatGPT and create the code for the website during his many long bus trips to different parts of Turkey.

Among the features assisted by ChatGPT, there is a basic function where a user can click on a province and flag it by these levels:

  • Living there (5) – You have spent a significant part of your life in that area.
  • Live there (4) – You sleep at least one night in that place.
  • Been there (3) – You spent hours exploring the area.
  • Get off there (2) – you just got off for a layover, stopover or connecting flight.
  • Passed there (1) – You passed the area but did not set foot there.
  • Never been there (0) – You need to travel there ASAP.
Users of My Philippines Travel Class click on a province and mark it with a specific travel class. Photo via Russell Ku/Rappler

Denz shared that ChatGPT was able to give “very good” answers to his queries as long as he gave a good hint. However, he added that the code given by the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot was not immediately usable on the site.

“It’s like you’re googling how other people do it, but it’s pretty much on the same level. When I did that and put in what ChatGPT recommends, I still had to make sure the code worked, so I had to tweak it a bit ,”He said.

The AI ​​chatbot also helped Denz master the basics of hosting a website, such as getting a domain.

“For software engineers, when you’re learning to write a new program, it’s hard to start from scratch. But it’s easier if you have a template. Since ChatGPT gave me a template of how to start, it made my Life is easier. That’s what I started in 2019 until a few days ago because no one could help me, or I could ask someone who knew about it, but I didn’t have the time,” he added.

hallucination

Despite the benefits, Denz ran into issues with ChatGPT, with chatbots “hallucinating” or giving outright wrong answers to his queries about adding a feature where users could share their maps directly to their Instagram Stories.

After extensive research, Denz realized that to get such functionality, he would have to rewrite the entire website code in React Native while coding in ReactJS.

React Native is used for cross-platform development of mobile applications, while ReactJS is used to build the user interface of websites. The programming languages ​​used by React Native and ReactJS are also different.

“Apparently there is no such (package) in ReactJS, but there is in React Native. So when I prompted ChatGPT to give me a package that does this, the chatbot gave me one. When I checked the package, it didn’t It works. I think ChatGPT invented this package to do this (function) with this command, and then that command didn’t exist in the first place,” he said.

Denz created a compromise that lets users save images of their finished maps, which they can share on their social media accounts.

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, also recognized these flaws in a November 2022 blog post on its website, saying that it could be “challenging” to address due to factors such as “currently no source of truth” in reinforcement learning training .

Denz said the issue showed the “danger” of trusting ChatGPT to be completely truthful, as it could be “susceptible to disinformation.”

After testing the site with friends, he launched it via Instagram Story stickers and Reddit on April 9. Denz added that after the website went live, he stopped relying on ChatGPT and instead did research on Google to quickly fix bugs.

to the philippines

According to the My Philippines Travel Level website, Denz has a Philippines travel level of just 62. The software engineer attributes this to the fact that he started traveling more until 2017 after earning enough money from his first job in Japan in 2015.

“If you were in Japan, you would go on vacation to the Philippines because (aircraft) tickets are expensive and it’s very impractical. It’s much faster to do ‘domestic travel’ in Japan,” he said.

Danz added that most of his travels in the Philippines have been in Luzon. In 2010, he also traveled from Japan to Cebu, Boracay for a family trip, and Davao for a national school press conference.

He hopes to change that as he is now based in Singapore with his eyes on destinations such as Palawan, Cebu and Bataan.

Danz also noticed patterns in the maps he saw in Moments and other posts on social media, saying those who are “affluent” are not necessarily the most traveled in the Philippines.

“I often see government workers, they’re the ones who go a lot, (because) their jobs require them to go to all the provinces. They’re high scorers, not necessarily leisure travelers,” he said.

Denz also clarified that he does not collect any data from the web app other than page views from the banner counter at the bottom of the site. To date, the My Philippines Travel Level website has had 2,301,068 visits.

viral reputation

In the meantime, Danz said he knew the maps had the potential to go viral. What surprised him, however, was how quickly companies, organizations and experts embraced the stunt. These releases visualize everything from ATMs available nationwide to the actual minimum wage rate in each region.

The virality of the travel map has also sparked buzz among concerned users, supporting the software engineer and his work.

With the online popularity of the My Philippines Travel Rating site growing, Danz hopes it will drive Filipinos to explore the Philippines more because “the country really has so much more to offer.”

He also wants those who create AI products like OpenAI to be “sufficiently accountable” for how they operate and maintain those tools. The software engineer also wants to educate consumers on AI so they won’t be fooled by the companies’ promises, adding that universities should have more AI courses.

“The field of artificial intelligence is very hot. So I hope that in the next generation, there will be a lot of people (knowing) how to navigate this field,” he said.

Those who wish to support Denz and the My Philippines Travel Level website can do so through his Paypal and GCash. – Rappler.com



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